When I read the Astavakra Gita the first time I was completely smitten. But I am re-reading it now and find finer fibres of understanding that's magical. I could write reams or put across its magic in a few words. I am going to attempt the latter: the more popular philosophical texts advice us how to be pure or give directions on how to reach this state. Or they unravel the trajectory towards that state. But this tiny text book says, "You are pure." That you do not need to struggle. That bit is over. Wow. What a mindblowing idea..there is nothing to do any more!
Chapter 19, verse 8:
"To talk about the three ends of life is needless,to talk about yoga is purposeless, and even talk about wisdom is irrelevant for me who repose in the Self. "
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Sunday, January 24, 2016
Wednesday, January 06, 2016
Tuesday, January 05, 2016
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We all have our phases. The last one year has been a period of spiritual upheaval for me. It is the sort of crossroads you come to, where the you realize the theory of yoga has to finally pass into experience.
Birth of any sort can be traumatizing. We humans do not like to accept that we are passing through several little deaths and several new births, every few years. None of us are anything close to what we were as kids, yet we hang on to a sense of illusory continuum.
So, to let go of a lot of things that are conditioned into us, is what yoga is all about. There is a lot of embarrassment about seeing this aspect (so intrinsic to yoga), for obvious reasons, and a lot of it stemming from confused religio-spiritual interpretations of it.
But this is a very scientific thing -- if you know of Shroedinger's Cat, then reality is a relative thing. The cat -- in this very scientific paradox of quantum mechanics because of what is defined as a superposition - can be both dead or alive. (What did you guys study in schools, if you don't know this, really?!!!)
from this link)
So, yes, what is sad could be joyous?! So, it means what is a separation can be a communion? You make some sort of a sense from this madness of appearances. In yogic philosophy, the jiva (the soul as you experience yourself now) is different from the atma (that is the soul that has passed ages). The latter in its separation from the cosmic soul makes tough choices. The conflict between these two - jiva and atma -- make the drama of your current life. You could die not knowing the subtext of this experience. That too would be a choice of your soul. But if there is a glimmer of awareness, you are lucky.
Then, you realize that everything else that you experience in this life is your soul's choice to make the jiva understand this. The purgatory, as it were. Karma, so blithely explained by many as tit-for-tat is not really that. Au contraire, it is the choice of you own soul to create tough spiritual choices so it can transcend and reach its destination faster. It is an impatient Olympic runner who has no patience for a plodding partner. The destination, the plodder, the super-runner, are all the same. The one who experiences no conflict between these several roles, understands yoga.
Some enlightened soul immediately understand how this paradox can exist. Others, aspiring, have to struggle. The practice of yoga makes lights up this passage of struggle. It clarifies.
So, no I have not attained moksha yet. But I get the idea of the karmic Schroedinger's cat, thanks to yoga.
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Thursday, September 10, 2015
Sacred geometry is a complete subject in itself. In yoga it is the esoteric yantras. But across the globe, across cultures, across human history, geometric figures have always been part of sacred rituals and sacred spaces. Today I was thinking of focusing on one figure and learn about its impact on human psyche: so its the circle.
Here is what master yogi Harish Johari has if point is condensed energy a circle is its extension.
Simply put a circle defines:
* Phenomenal world
Johari also says it represents dynamism
Scientists who study the connection between art and the human brain will tell us that at a very subliminal level the geometric shapes do carry
a subtext loaded with meaning. Ergonomists, interior designers, architects, space consultants already exploit this connection.
Monday, September 07, 2015
The gifts u win for sitting calmly
According to Tibetan Buddhist leader Thich Naht Hanh:
We first get compassion. This gets us courage. Its interesting to note that compassion is linked with courage. This is directly opposite to what we have been taught so far.
Compassion for yourself and others gives you the courage to fight your spiritual battles. And compassion can be cultivated only when we are at peace with ourselves. And when we are at peace mentally we can think clearly.
Saturday, June 27, 2015
It's an exotic among exotic poses. So fills u with exhilaration. .even a master like BKS is not above that thrill as mentioned in his Light on Yoga book. This a very tough variation of the basic one. In the latter the top leg is held with this leg lock. Holding the bottom leg requires tremendous control over balance.
Tip: Master the basic. Then use a wall to lean while experimenting with this version. It falls in place, suddenly. Pure serendipity. .
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
This is one of the most spiritual poses, simply because of its purificatory nature. In Indian mythology a peacock is the natural enemy of a snake, and therefore this pose also has that implication -- that it is the natural enemy of the toxic part of who we are !
Swami Satyananadaji who writes a lot on poses from various angles -- the psychic, spiritual, biological and psycho-somatic -- says it can speed up the throw of toxins and should be part of those who want to clarify things, internally or externally. Along these lines, it can help skin clear up, tone the digestion, and tone the entire endocrine gland system.
ANSWER: IT SHOULD BE DONE TOWARDS THE END OF ONE'S PRACTICE.
Here are Swamiji's words: That it should be done towards the end of one's practice because it builds up toxins, imminent to their release. And if you do inversions after the peacock, you may end up with toxin overload in your head!
Monday, June 15, 2015
The peacock pose is amongst the classic poses normally listed in most yoga texts. As you read them, you will find that certain poses are mentioned as common favorites by these ancient hatha yogis. And peacock pose is one of the spiritual poses, and helps you to digest poison physically (and also mentally, I gather).
But certain schools -- especially the therapy based ones -- do not recommend this where certain existing problems persist. Equally, similarly "timid" schools would say that this pose is contraindicated for women and totally avoidable. There is a very good reason for this, if you remember the context in which it is placed. In earlier traditions, and I would say right up to my mom's time, most deliveries of babies were natural births. My mom would say that a woman was physically very busy till the last day of her delivery which facilitated natural childbirth. Plus, most women had several offspring. By the time she reached the third baby, often her hips had widened, and her reproductive system become so flexible inside that she could stand holding the cradle (they used to have the saree tied to a wooden rod, I recall) and feel the baby emerging and could deliver easily and smoothly!
All of this meant of course, that there was a certain natural looseness at the uterine passage. So, peacock, because it applies tremendous pressure, can cause uterine prolapse in such women or if they have incidence of it, worsen the situation.
It is also not recommended for those with a fragile heart. The elbows squeeze into the large liver, one whose functions is to sponge off excess blood that piles up in the cardiac chambers. So, for those with a heart condition, the pressure that piles up at the heart would be beyond permissible levels.
Women who wish to hold the pose and ensure the pelvic floor does not slacken with regular practice of the peacock pose (mayurasana) must hold the root lock firmly when lifting up.
Monday, June 08, 2015
You enter the pose in garbasana /or garba pindasana -- the embryo pose with legs locked in lotus, and arms through your legs. Then roll over in a rocking motion. The last few rolls should bring you up on the mat, till you lift your hips clear off the mat and hold. Once you go up, your calves and things should lift "grasp" the arms, to lift you even higher.
Just now, the image above was not entered that way. But will post one soon, with a higher lift, to explain it in detail.
Wednesday, June 03, 2015
So, this is a list of the huge problems that most people do not know
Mooladhara -- Illusion, anger, greed, violent reactions, insecurity.
SWadhistana chakra-- Emotional yo-yos. Restless anxiety
Manipura -- Selfish actions,ego,anger, power.
Anahata chakra -- Purgatory may be experienced, if negative karmas are enacted.
Vishuddha chakra --Throat center -- Negative intellect, or using the intellect unwisely
Ajna Chakra - Third Eye center --
Sahasrara chakra -- Crown Center -- Negative intellect, negation of the divine. Also,when the yogi attains bliss, all action may cease so tamas loka (plane of laziness) may occur.
Tuesday, June 02, 2015
It is not that yoga seeks to change you in a rigid fashion, but the implication is that your lifestyle deeply affects your energy fields and that you could control a lot of such dissipation, through discipline and love for what you do. How you think, even that matters.
I do not want to lecture you. Rather, I quote teachers far greater than I, and who know everything best.
Swami Satyanandaji in one of his books says that lifestyle definitely affects your pranamayakosha (energy body).
Here is a list
1. Physical activity
4. Food intake
5. Sexual relations
8. Irregularities in lifestyle
This is what drains one's energy. There are five movements of prana /energy. One prana being depleted means blockage in overall energy flow, disease, metabolic dysfunction.
Pranayamas largely help against this depletion and revitalize the body.
Monday, June 01, 2015
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I bought this little booklet 1001 Home Remedies Natural cures, by Esme Floyd. It is very accessible book, without too verbosity and neatly indexed remedies for every known problem (or so it seemed).
It is a book you may want to pick up, for sure.
Somebody had asked me remedies for fungal toe, and I am sharing some tips from that book (so as to prod you into buying the book).
* Cornmeal foot bath. Soak cornmeal in slightly warm water, Let stand for half hour. Then take a foot bath in it, for an hour. Repeat weekly.
* Rub vick vaporub on feet at night, cover with socks. Repeat daily, till fungus disappear. Ditto for the last tip also.
* Alternately, do a foot rub with this solution: a few drops of peppermint oil added to eucalyptus oil. Again cover feet with socks before sleeping.
Let me know if this worked for you!
Sunday, May 31, 2015
Thursday, May 28, 2015
This is a pose I am reclaiming after a year or so. Earlier, on a good day, I could be in it for a long time. But not enough to make it what it deserves and truly is, a meditation posture. Which means half hour at the least!
And with cleaner and more settled lines at the hips.
It has many physical benefits:
* Hip alignment
* Powers the heart
* Expands lung volume
* Boosts respiratory capacity
* Manages spinal problem, cleans up posture
* Helps control rounded back/dowager's hump
* Improves arm and upper flexibility, plus leg and hip tone.
HELPS CONTROL MIGRAINES
* Psychic impact?
* Heals the heart center/anahata chakra
* Improves emotional balance
Though the name means hidden lotus, implying the legs in lotus remain hidden beneath the body, I also believe the name could be because of the impact on the hidden nadi, also called gupt nadi -- this one, according to the Bihar School of Yoga, runs from the knees along the inside of the thighs into the perineum
Wednesday, May 27, 2015
A lot of "dramatic" meditation is being done by certain yoga schools, almost designed into slapstick comedies. That works for the boss gurus and attracts the sort of crowd that looks for spiritual entertainment -- which is the latest sort of fun really.
My transcripts are mostly by the Bihar School of yoga, from their innumeraable books.My favorite is of course of Swami Satyananandaji's meditations -- very healing and soothing, with a sweet and accessible language and structure.
Of course there is no yoga without meditation.
Often, I see people unable to manage their poses despite great physical prowess. I also see people dropping out of practice altogether. Even sickness and injuries that comes as natural part of life -- it surprises me practitioners allow that and do not see it is because they are resolutely resisting meditation.
Though asanas and pranayama (another aspect of yoga largely neglected all over) do a lot towards sickness control, ultimately, if there is no meditation there is no yoga and not its benefits either, it seems.
And no, it is not me saying it. Its the way yoga is defined, because meditation is the higher limb of yoga. It may be you are unfit for it, but to think that meditation is sissy or boring, that is strange. Or to have loud hypnotic sessions where people are lolling about or passed out from psychotropic stuff?
When people who have tried these weird meditation come to my class,they get angry -- because I think the possibility of training the mind is too much for them. They have become so tuned to becoming its puppet.
Here is a quote from Thich Nath Hanh in his little amazing booklet " How to sit" which explains this strange aspect of meditation which is pure, austere.
"When you sit and breathe with mindful awareness, you become aware of al then emotions that have been ignored while you were busy doing things. You become aware of not just your sorrows and joys but also your neutral feelings. A neutral feeling is an awareness that is neither pleasant nor painful,such as an awareness of a part of your body that is not in pain. With awareness, we can transform a neutral feeling into a pleasant feeling.
When you have a toothache, the feeling is very unpleasant. When you don't have a toothache, you usually have a neutral feeling: you are not aware of your toothache. When you are mindful of not having a toothache, then what was a netural feeling becomes a feeling of peace and joy. You are so happy not have a toothache in this moment. By transforming neutral feelings into joyful ones, we nourish our happiness."
That is obviously a tough act. Most people want explosive experiences. And keep on cultivating them. And of course, there are gurus who cater precisely to these sentiments.
So it is natural that meditation is not for everyone.
Tuesday, May 26, 2015
If you notice, most religions have the habit of laying the forehead on the ground (before chairs and stools took over). This obviously activates the third eye.
So, this book Ajna Chakra lists a research published in Biological Psychology by G. A Tooley, which lists these following benefits by managing the release of metatonin which is
* a potent anti-oxidant (which protects against free radical damage)
* free radical scavenger ( free radical cause disease and aging, so melatonin fights them)
* reduces cellular damage of living
* it is anti-cancer
* Immunoaugmenting (boosts immunity)
* anti-stress (stress can kill brain cells conclusively, and is a known cause for most diseases, and hastens aging for sure)
Monday, May 25, 2015
No, the research was not talking about the headstand -- I was just linking the dots and came up with this amazing insight:)
* When there is more blood rush to the brain, the myelin sheath, which is around the axon or brain cell, is protected. Damage to it is what causes age-related diseases (Alzheimer's, memory loss)
* More blood to the brain meant more white matter volume: white matter was related to learning, cognitive skills, co-ordinations, speed of firing between the cells. I think of this as young muscles for the brain.
* More blood meant more neurotrophic factors which helped regenerate new brain cells.
* More blood meant the new cells, which otherwise die when remaining unchallenged, get to live longer and help your brain become more plastic.
* It meant that you could ward off the problems of stress which literally eats/suffocates your brain cells to death.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
Any case, over the years I recollect the first four, and the last four have evaded me the minute I shut the text from where I am trying to learn them. I realize that there is something odd there, as if I do not want to know of these other fours. I have my own reasons for that guess, but I am not sharing that here. But check below if you have any of these powers listed below, as amongst the eight siddhis/powers(ashtha siddhis) that come from a regular yoga practice. And if you do find that you are really powered, keep quiet and do not discuss it with anybody, because that would mean upside down wisdom (viparitajnana)
* Anima -- Reduce oneself as little as possible
* Mahima - To grow big, as one wishes
*Laghima - To become light
* Garima -To become heavy
* Prapti - To go where one wishes
* Prakamya - To get what one desires
* Istva- To become Lord of all
* Vastva - To control everybody
You can imagine real leaders in earlier times had to do yoga if they were to be effective at all. Nowadays, I don't know if anybody relates to the esoteric art of yoga..
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Answer: Oops! The illustration has given away the answer.. look carefully.
Yes it is the north. And also, often the east.
Let's get to the science behind it. This is based on the Vastu shashtra(Indian science of architecture designed to maximize the flow of cosmic energy) , which in turn connects and aligns with the modern day science of the earth magnetic poles. If you understand a bit about pineal gland, it is said to "feel" the earth's magnet. While there are naysayers who feel this is hocus-pocus, actually science shows that in mass migration of animals across the earth, often in territories that is strange to them, the pineal gland acts as the "guide".
So, in all spiritual practices (even stimulation of the mind in creative and intellectual work), facing north (or east) works best because the energy shifts upwards in a positive way. You have connected with the entire energy of the universe by tapping the direction of its flow. Wow, what an exciting idea.
All you hardcore yoga fans who tried my quiz, hurray!
Its super cool that you tried it -- but did you get the right answer -- well, if you clicked cerebellum, you are right!
And for some more, to whet your appetite for yoga --
Tuesday, May 19, 2015
This part of your body is engaged in balancers.
It is also related to
* reflexive reactions
*and of course, a state of emotional balance
Now find out here
Thursday, November 27, 2014
This is part of the thrill of being a yoga teacher. And now, as new students come I am less daunted at their awkwardness with their bodies or their disconnect, because I know that my guru's grace is going to get them to pass through this stage easily enough:)
The sugarcane pose (chapasana) in its many variations -- from top let, side plant, mountain, cat, standing forward bend (setuasana, parvatasana, vyagrasana, uttanasana).
It is a lovely challenging pose. I realize it works the oblique with intricate intensity (especially in the side plank), opens the hips in all its variations, and tremendously challenges your senseof balance. In the cat stretch, there is also the easier version of holding ankle with the opposite hand (unlike here, with the same right hand holding right ankle). So, it apparently has endless possibilities.
On the emotional level, it offers:
- Exhilaration (it is quite interesting to note that most poses which challenge the "love handle" muscles have this impact).
- A keen sense of adventure.
- Playfulness (because you must be prepared to fall and pick upin the learning stages).
- Stability, groundedness.
- An openness of the mind (otherwise most stretches are difficult if you are learning later in life:)
- Internalisation/involution of the mind.
- Fearlessness (a lot of fear comes from how harshly we judge ourselves as beginners/or when we fall and much of the injuries on the mat come from either a lack of focus or extreme ego).
- A love for precision and structure, and therefore clarity of thinking.
- Pure stamina of the spirit.
Monday, November 24, 2014
So, yes, it is a very difficult pose to master and the pain in the ankle, to which I feel a strong resistance, has to be withstood before I proceed ahead.
But this is the first time, today, I caught on to all the mistakes I've been making and that makes it an interesting pose to relearn.
* It is better entered from a squatting upright position, even if you must use a blocks. This is a lighter entry.
* But here different sets of muscles get used. From a squat, you use upper back (which is possible for many yoga practitioners) but from a standing position you need pure hip strength, and a peculiar band of muscle along the hip. So, you may have to struggle with this stage -- with the leg bent -- for a while before you develop muscle memory and strength for that.
* The foot locks itself on the arm. It is better than getting it crushed mindlessly (as I managed to do till now!).The foot is not under the chest, but curved around the arm, in a hook.
* The shin bone of the bent leg also creates a pressing lock and that is how the leg does not slide off.
*It is better to learn strength with the back leg bent and do it for longer than crave an instant lift that is never satisfying and does not give you the right muscle memory.
This pose has taught me that sometimes it is better to unlearn everything and start afresh, with the mind cleansed of the mistakes and from another place (of entry) so the mind is not cluttered by memories that get in the way.
Friday, November 14, 2014
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NOW FOR THE LEFT NOSTRIL IMPACT:
* Stimulates parasympathetic nervous system.
* SPATIAL PERFORMANCE IMPROVED.
* Lowers blood sugar.
*Reduces blink rate.
*Increases intraocular pressure
*Decreases heart rate.
*Inflates left lung preferentiality
(From Yoga as Medicine), a Yoga Journal book, by Timothy McCall, M.D.
The image of moon used because left nostril breathing is said to awaken the moon/cooling energy of the ida nadi.